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AP English Language and Composition Free-Response Questions
Question 1: Synthesis Essay
Directions: The following prompt is based on the accompanying sources.
This question requires you to synthesize a variety of sources into a coherent, well-written essay. Synthesis refers to combining the sources and your position to form a cohesive, supported argument and accurately citing sources. Your argument should be central; the sources should support this argument. Avoid merely summarizing sources.
Remember to attribute both direct and indirect citations.
Starting in late August, 2016, NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick gained national attention for kneeling during a preseason football game as his way of protesting racial oppression in the United States. Since Kaepernick’s protest gained attention from major media outlets more athletes from various sports at different levels have begun to follow suit and replicate his act to support his protest. His protest has sparked a massive controversy in the United States on whether or not his acts are disgraceful, brave or even his right to freedom of speech.
Read the following sources (including the introductory information) carefully. Then, write an essay in which you develop a position on whether or not Colin Kaepernick’s protest is appropriate.
You may refer to the sources by their titles (Source A, Source B, etc.) or by the descriptions in parentheses.
Source A (Grobe)
Source B (Breech)
Source C (Jones)
Source D (Witz)
Source E (Martin)
Source F (Cook)
Grobe, Anna M. “Why some in the US military support Colin Kaepernick”. CSMonitor.com. The Christian Science Monitor, 16 September 2016. Web. 17 September 2016.
The following is an excerpt from an article posted on the a web site devoted to various sciences.
But Justin McFarlin comes at it from a different perspective.
As an Army veteran who served in Iraq in 2008, he doesn’t need Mr. Kaepernick or any other protesters to stand up during the national anthem.
Instead, he wants the country to address the issue Kaepernick is raising – not just for the good of the United States, but for its soldiers deployed abroad.
“When I served in Iraq, sectarian violence was a huge issue,” he says. “If the perception emerges that at home we’re not treating our own minorities well, then that diminishes our own credibility abroad.”
Mr. McFarlin’s viewpoint certainly doesn’t reflect the opinions of many in the military or the US. A
http://www.reuters.com/article/us-nfl-anthem-poll-idUSKCN11K2IDReuters poll found that 72 percent of Americans call Kaepernick’s protest “unpatriotic,” though 64 percent say he has a constitutional right to do it.
But a vocal contingent of military veterans is pushing back, saying that not only is it Kaepernick’s right to protest, it is actually a patriotic act worth defending.
“Part of loving America is being able to say, ‘Look, we’ve got some issues, and I think we need to change some things.’ To be brave enough to be willing to stand up on a rooftop and shout it – that’s just as patriotic as painting your truck red, white, and blue,” says Matt Pelak, a 19-year Army veteran and a paratrooper.
“As veterans, we need to be more vocal about this. I support his ability to express himself, and this is what we fought for," he adds. "It doesn’t offend me. He’s upset, he’s doing it for a valid reason, and I think he’s done a pretty good job of explaining it.”
Kaepernick has said, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.” He added, “To me, this is bigger than football, and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way.”
Many veterans bristle at the protest.
“While no one should be compelled to stand, they should recognize that by sitting in protest to the flag they are disrespecting everyone who sacrificed to make this country what it is today – as imperfect as it might be,” wrote retired Adm. Bill McRaven, former head of Joint Special Operations Command, which is responsible for the sorts of secret operations run by the Navy SEALs, including the raid to kill Osama bin Laden.
Admiral McRaven, now serving as the chancellor of the University of Texas system, asked university presidents and athletic directors to “encourage your coaching staff and your players to stand up straight” for the anthem and, specifically, to “face the flag and place their hand over their heart as a sign of respect to the nation.”
But McFarlin says he admires that Kaepernick has “put himself out there.”
“If you really love your country, then that’s what you do: Make people think about those conversations and maybe push them out of their comfort zone.”
Protecting free speech is one of the reasons he served, McFarlin says. So he would like to see the conversation centered more around the issues that Kaepernick is trying to raise
Breech, John. “POLL: Majority of Americans disagree with Colin Kaepernick’s protest”. CBSSports.com. CBS, 15 September 2016. Web. 17 September 2016.
The following is an excerpt from an article posted to a major sports news website.
Colin Kaepernick's protest seems
http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/news/here-are-the-11-players-who-joined-colin-kaepernicks-protest-in-week-1/to be gaining steam with some of his fellow
http://www.cbssports.com/nflNFL players, however, it doesn't seem to be catching on with the rest of the country.
In two recent polls that were both conducted within the past week, a majority of respondents said that they disagree with Kaepernick's decision to protest racial inequality and police brutality by not standing for the national anthem.
In one poll, which
http://www.reuters.com/article/us-nfl-anthem-poll-idUSKCN11K2IDwas conducted by Reuters, 72 percent of Americans said that they thought Kaepernick's behavior was unpatriotic. Another 61 percent said that they do not "support the stance Colin Kaepernick is taking and his decision not to stand during the national anthem."
The Reuters poll of 2,903 adults
http://polling.reuters.com/was conducted between Sept. 6-12. Kaepernick's protest
http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/news/colin-kaepernick-takes-a-stand-by-not-standing-for-the-national-anthem/went public on Aug. 26.
The poll included 1,481 people who identified as white and 612 people who identified as racial minorities. Of those two groups, 70 percent of whites disagreed with Kaepernick's stance, while only 40 percent of racial minorities disagreed with the 49ers quarterback.
Although many respondents disagree with Kaepernick's stance, 64 percent of all the people who were surveyed agreed that Kaepernick has a constitutional right to protest and shouldn't be punished by the NFL.
In another poll, which was
https://www.surveymonkey.com/conducted by SurveyMonkey, 44 percent of people said they are "not supportive at all of Kaepernick's protest." Another 29 percent said they did support it and the rest were unsure.
In the Survey Monkey poll, which was conducted Sept. 13-14, 60 percent of respondents said Kaepernick should not be punished by the NFL for his protesting.
Since starting his protest in August, 13 NFL players have joined Kaepernick's cause. The 49ers quarterback has said that he's going to keep sitting during the national anthem
http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/news/colin-kaepernick-ill-keep-sitting-for-anthem-until-meaningful-change-occurs/until "meaningful change" occurs in our country.
Jones, Clay. “Political Cartoon Kaepernick National Anthem”. SUIndependent.com. The Independent – A voice for Utah, 29 August 2016. Web. 17 September 2016.
The following is a political cartoon from a local news website in Utah.
Witz, Billy. “Colin Kaepernick kneels national anthem protest”. NYTimes.com. The New York Times, 1 September 2016. Web. 17 September 2016.
“Once again, I’m not anti-American,” Kaepernick said. “I love America. I love people. That’s why I’m doing this. I want to help make America better. I think having these conversations helps everybody have a better understanding of where everybody is coming from.”
“Things have happened in Louisiana and the injustices that are happening could have happened to one of my family members,” said Reid, who is from Baton Rouge, La. “It touched close to home and I just wanted to show my support to him and let him know that he is not the only person who feels the way that he feels. There are a lot of people out there that feel that way.”
Still, Kaepernick was booed at every turn on Thursday — when he entered the field to warm up, when he took a knee, and virtually every time the 49ers offense broke its huddle. It did not seem to impact his performance. He directed the 49ers to two scoring drives in the first half of their eventual 31-21 victory.
Kaepernick’s decision to sit for the anthem brought widespread attention to a game that would have been all but ignored. The N.F.L.’s final exhibition games come after more than a month of practice, rarely feature any starters and are seen by coaches as exercises to get through unscathed before the start of the regular season.
But it was important to Les and Jackie Cohen, who were each cradling one of their newborn twins — Daytona and Matthew, who were born on the Fourth of July — after driving two hours from the desert town of Victorville, Calif., to deliver a message to Kaepernick.
“We’re inspired,” Les Cohen said. “We decided to exercise our First Amendment rights — the right to tell him he’s fired. I’m sorry he’s so oppressed, he’s making $18 million.” (Kaepernick is due to make $11.9 million this season.)
Martin, Angelina. “Veterans stand behind Kaepernick’s choice to kneel”. TurlockJournal.com. The Turlock Journal, 8 September 2016. Web. 17 September 2016.
The following is an excerpt from a blogger to a popular journal sharing site.
By refusing to stand during the singing of the national anthem, Kaepernick has been accused of being unpatriotic and disrespectful toward active duty service members and veterans. Veterans For Peace, a national organization made up of military veterans and military members, released a statement on Thursday in support of Kaepernick and the criticism he has faced.
“To question his patriotism and use smear tactics to quiet him is in direct contradiction to the spirit of the right to freedom of expression,” the statement reads. “His act of protest is a political act to register his discontent with the actions of his government. It is a nonviolent act that demands positive change for a better future for all of us. It is exactly the kind of speech the First Amendment was designed to protect and as veterans we applaud his use of his rights for the cause of equality and justice; rights and ideals that we are told we served to defend.”
The statement goes on to condemn police shootings of unarmed people, as well as unfair treatment of other minority groups, such as immigrants, the LGBTQ community and Muslim and Native Americans. Veterans For Peace also condemns the United States government’s handling of issues including homelessness and unemployment.
“Veterans For Peace supports Kaepernick’s right to freedom of expression. We applaud his choice to exercise that right and call on others with high visibility to speak out and take action in various ways for peace and justice and demand a fair and just national response to address these and many other critical issues faced by people both here in the U.S. and abroad,” the statement ends.
Michael McPhearson, Executive Director of Veterans For Peace, individually spoke in support of Kaepernick.
“I am a veteran,” he said. “I have refused to stand for the national anthem. When I do, I do not salute or place my hand on my heart. Racism affects every system of government to the wars we fight abroad to the senseless deaths of black youth at the hands of police. I stand solemnly with my head down at parade rest reflecting on all the unjust acts my nation is doing to people both at home and abroad.”
Other veterans have voiced their support for Kaepernick as well. Just days after Kaepernick went public with his protest and his reasons behind it, a new hashtag – #VeteransForKaepernick – emerged on social media. The hashtag was the number one trending topic on social media for days, with veterans voicing their support for Kaepernick and his efforts to raise awareness about social injustice and police brutality.
Cook, Ron. “The good and bad about Colin Kaepernick’s stance on national anthem”. Post-gazette.com. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 30 August 2016. Web. 17 September 2016.
The following is an excerpt from an editorial posted to the local news outlet in Pittsburgh, PA.
Is it possible to respect and admire San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick for his refusal to stand for our national anthem and be disgusted and offended by it at the same time?
Of course, it’s possible.
That’s exactly how I feel.
I respect anyone who has the nerve to take an unpopular stand, puts his or her name on it and is willing to live with the consequences. I felt the same way in 2011 when Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall used Twitter to question Osama bin Laden’s role in the 9/11 terrorist attacks and condemn those who celebrated his death. I admired Mendenhall’s strength in a social-media world where it is common for the gutless to spew their opinions — hurtful or otherwise — with the protection of anonymity. I defended his right to speak his mind, just as I’ll defend Kaepernick’s right to sit during the anthem. The freedom to express an opinion is one of the many reasons this country is the greatest in the world.
But that doesn’t mean I agree with what Mendenhall had to say or what Kaepernick did Friday night before an exhibition game against the Green Bay Packers. I was sickened by both. In Mendenhall’s case, I couldn’t stop thinking about the many innocent lives that were lost during the 9/11 attacks, the families that were left grieving and the way our world changed forever. In Kaepernick’s case, I can’t stop thinking about the thousands of servicemen and women who stood up and fought and are fighting — often making the ultimate sacrifice — so we can live in freedom.
Kaepernick took his stand — or his seat, if you will — in response to a recent run of black lives being lost to police violence. “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” he told NFL Media. “There are bodies in the street.”
All people — black and white — should be concerned about the police violence, just as they should be troubled by the retaliatory attacks on innocent police personnel. All lives matter. It’s encouraging that a number of athletes, including NBA stars Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James, have called attention to both issues by speaking out. Facing our race problems together is a lot better than pretending they don’t exist or running away from them. It’s refreshing that Anthony, James and others are using their platform as sports celebrities to help lead the way rather than staying quiet to protect their public image and endorsements.
But it’s hard to imagine anything positive coming from Kaepernick’s sit-down. To the contrary, he’s using a negative to fight a negative. Our flag and anthem represent something sacred to too many people. You might like or dislike Donald Trump, but it’s fair to say he spoke for many Monday when he said of Kaepernick on The Dori Monson Show, “Maybe he should find a country that works better for him.”
Kaepernick is all over the news, but this isn’t the first time an athlete has taken this kind of position. In 1996, Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf of the Denver Nuggets refused to stand for the anthem, saying the flag was a symbol of oppression. In 2004, Carlos Delgado of the Toronto Blue Jays refused to come out of the dugout for the playing of “God Bless America” during the seventh-inning stretch. But, somehow, it seems more jarring that Kaepernick is talking of oppression when he is scheduled to make $11.9 million in base salary this season. It’s also jarring because there’s less racism — at least in sports — than there’s ever been. You can argue pro teams can do a better job hiring minorities for their top executive and coaching positions. But you can’t argue that franchises care more about a person’s color than they do about winning. Winning is the only thing that matters.
Abdul-Rauf and Delgado ended up making compromises to their position and went on to have a long career. But Kaepernick said Sunday he will continue to sit during the anthem. This can’t please the 49ers and coach Chip Kelly, who, like all organizations and coaches, hate distractions even though they made sure to say the right things publicly about Kaepernick’s free-speech rights. The 49ers thought the Kaepernick situation was such an issue that they called a team meeting Sunday so he could explain to the other players what he was doing. All emerged from the meeting saying all is well, but this is not a distraction that figures to go away soon unless Kaepernick changes his stance.s willing to live with the consequences. I felt the same way in 2011 when Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall used Twitter to question Osama bin Laden’s role in the 9/11 terrorist attacks and condemn those who celebrated his death. I admired Mendenhall’s strength in a social-media world where it is common for the gutless to spew their opinions — hurtful or otherwise — with the protection of anonymity. I defended his right to speak his mind, just as I’ll defend Kaepernick’s right to sit during the anthem. The freedom to express an opinion is one of the many reasons this country is the greatest in the world.
Kaepernick is all over the news, but this isn’t the first time an athlete has taken this kind of position. In 1996, Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf of the Denver Nuggets refused to stand for the anthem, saying the flag was a symbol of oppression. In 2004, Carlos Delgado of the Toronto Blue Jays refused to come out of the dugout for the playing of “God Bless America” during the seventh-inning stretch. But, somehow, it seems